Active Time
20 MIN
Total Time
2 HR
Yield
Serves : 9

As with all good movie or TV franchises, snack cake deserves a sequel. If my first snack cake recipe (Carrot-Almond Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting) didn’t catch your fancy, maybe this one will. The story line is the same—8-x-8 format, whisk-together batter, thick layer of yummy frosting over tall, moist cake—but the cast is completely different. You can think of these cakes as the True Detective of recipes (just seasons 1 and 3, please).

What’s new in snack cake #2 is the incredible chemistry of the two main players, which work in sync quite beautifully: peanut butter and banana. (Well, there’s chocolate, too, but it’s in a supporting role). The fruity banana batter is bolstered by browned butter for caramel-like richness that’s echoed by the butterscotch notes of brown sugar. Chocolate chips make an appearance, too, and even though their role is small, it’s impactful—especially if you frost and cut the cake before it’s completely cool and the chocolate is still a little gooey.

And here’s the real twist—this snack cake is completely whole-grain—but not in an obnoxious, hit-you-over-the-head sort of way. Whole-wheat pastry flour has a fine texture and mild flavor that blends seamlessly into baked goods like this. Though its flavor is milder than the earnest wheatiness of standard whole wheat, there is still some nutty nuance to it. And that’s great, because it intensifies the richness of all the good flavors in this cake (the browned butter, brown sugar, and peanut butter), instead of diluting them the way that white flour would.

As for the salted peanut butter frosting, well, be still my heart! Peanut butter behaves quite similarly to butter here, beating to a fluffy consistency that gives the frosting a smooth, creamy, buttercream-like texture. And the decision to add a good hit of salt? It makes the peanut butter taste more peanut buttery, as if you’d concentrated the flavor of four times as much as you actually use. And it’s a delicious way to cap off snack cake #2—because a good sequel needs to stand up to the original and make you want even more.

How to Make It

Step 1    

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square metal baking pan with parchment paper, allowing paper to overhang about 2 inches.

Step 2    

Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium. Continue cooking until butter turns light brown and smells incredibly nutty-fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

Step 3    

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center of mixture; crack in egg, and whisk to beat. Add banana, brown sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla; whisk until well blended. Stir in browned butter. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon mixture into prepared baking pan.

Step 4    

Bake in preheated oven until cake springs back when lightly touched in the center and a wooden pick comes out clean, 30 to 33 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Remove cake from pan, using parchment as handles, and let cool on rack to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Step
Step 5    

Make the frosting: Combine peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl; beat with a handheld mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add powdered sugar; beat on low speed until just combined. Increase speed to medium, and beat until smooth. Spread frosting over cake. Garnish with chocolate chips, if desired.Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

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